ARLINGTON (CBSDFW.COM) — A military family got an unexpected Christmas gift on Saturday — the return of a family heirloom that has been missing for over seven years.

Sisters Cyndi Premazon and Denise Duncan for years have been looking for an important family heirloom — a shadow box with invaluable memories of their cousin, Private James Lynn Barnes.

Barnes served as a crewman in the Army Air Corp. in World War II. One day after D-Day, the 33-year-old was shot down over Normandy, France.

“He landed in the ocean, and they never recovered his body,” said Duncan.

Decades later, a Purple Heart was presented to Barnes’ mother on her son’s behalf. When she passed away, she passed down a shadow box honoring Barnes for his service.

“You can never replace that,” said Premazon. “These were the original certificates, the original Purple Heart and air medals, the original shadow box.”

Then in 2006, Premazon says the shadow box mysteriously disappeared during a messy divorce.

“I had to just write these off as being gone. We thought they were lost forever.”

On Veteran’s Day of this year — seven years later — Premazon was thinking of her cousin and decided to do a simple Google search. That’s when she found a story that had previously aired on CBS 11.

A VFW Post in Arlington had received a shadowbox anonymously and was desperate to find the rightful owners.

“I saw the shadow box and I just couldn’t believe it. I said you’re kidding me…I said it can’t be real…but it is,” said Premazon.

On Saturday, VFW Post 6111 presented the memento of their fallen cousin to the family.

“You cant replace family treasures and sentimental value…Nobody can replace that.”

(©2013 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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